Marco Chistolini, Researcher, Psychotherapist and trainer, Italy
Giorgia Salvadori, Researcher, Fondazione Paideia onlus, Italy
In the Italian legislative system foster care is regulated as a temporary intervention: the expected maximum length is 24 months, that can be extended when necessary. Practice is different: 60% of foster care placements are longer than 2 years and children could stay in a foster family until they are 18 or more. Permanent placement in foster care (it is called “sine die”) is therefore a relevant phenomenon, that cannot be ignored. Children living in such a situation have to face a complexity of factors, for many reasons – Social workers and justice system do not consider permanent placement as an option: practice leads them to renew the time frame defined by law or to use a vagueness length of placement – Consequently, children feel the presence/absence of the birth family: as highlighted by Pauline Boss (1999; 2006), the lack of attention to this process contribute to a condition of “Ambiguous Loss” – The vagueness of length has consequences on the relationship between children and foster parents: the foster care time is uncertain, and this prevents the development a sense of belonging to the new family. The abstract aims to reflect about how to support these specific situations. For these specific cases, we propose to develop a process that includes children, foster families and birth family together, in order to guarantee the best conditions for a safe growing up of children. Guidelines can be summarized in these three points: – Reduction of uncertainty – Awareness of the loss (logic of continuity and prevention of traumatic breakdown) – Building of a good sense of belonging This kind of programme can be developed in individual or group setting. The goal of the presentation is to explore assumptions, strengths/weakness points and outcomes of this approach.
Key-words: Ambiguous Loss, logic of continuity, support intervention, prevention